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    Seu, an oasis to be visited on tiptoes

    Photos by Maurizio Porcu, Alea

    It is almost as if the scrub opens only at one’s passage, and is then ready to close itself again, like water. A swarm of small fleeing birds rises from the low and compact tangle. They spread out in the clear autumn sky to settle and hide together in another point in the sea of bushes. The Mistral, which is used to beat furiously here, today is only in the shrubs, forced towards the hinterland as if it were a hairdo in a face. Then the blanket thins out, the old house of Don Efisio Carta appears before the Spanish tower, and the bright sea stretched to the horizon.

    The oasis of Seu is a residual area of the Sinis Mediterranean scrub in the Gulf of Oristano. Around, the cultivated fields extend almost to the edge of the limestone coast. A naturalistic treasure that man has frequented for millennia, intensifying its presence only over the last century. "The archeology speaks for itself: the nuraghe hidden between the dunes, and the nearby well, the Punic and Roman shards that can still be found on the bottom of the Marine Protected Area. Seu is truly a jewel, both from a natural and historical point of view", says Maurizio Porcu, environmental guide of Alea, the research and environmental-tourism company that has been organizing excursions to the oasis for many years.

    For much of the twentieth century Seu belonged to Don Efisio Carta, the famous owner of the Cabras pond. It was his hunting reserve, and it is in the clearing that overlooks the Spanish tower that on November 16, 1978, after a bloody brawl, Don Efisio was kidnapped by a group of bandits, according to a pattern in vogue in Sardinia in those years. He was never found. Until the mid-1990s Seu was a WWF oasis. At the death of the widow Carta, after a brief interregnum at the turn of the 2000s, when the Municipality of Cabras took possession of it, the property returned to its legitimate heirs. "The value of Seu is inestimable", confirms Massimo Marras, director of the Marine Protected Area of Sinis-Isola di Mal di Ventre. "There are numerous floral and fauna species housed in the oasis. The tortoises and the lizards, just to name a few of the best known”.

    We disturb one little specimen, placidly stretched out to absorb the sun's rays on the platform that leads to the beach of Is Caogheddas, on the northern edge of the oasis. It paws quickly away. The deserted beach is a hallucination of colors. Only in the distance you can spot a solitary beach umbrella. All engrossed in himself a photographer passes by. Three cyclists look out from the dirt road. They contemplate the view, they leave. The friction of the wheels on the stones is the only sound in perfect silence. But life abounds in the oasis: "The vegetation, also consisting of Aleppo pines and eucalyptus, favors the presence and permanence of many species", explains Lara Bassu, another environmental guide of the Alea team. “The oak mouse for example, which particularly benefits from the presence of the pines. Or crocidures, which we identified thanks to the regurgitation of nocturnal birds. There is also the Suncus etruscus, the smallest mammal in Europe, which is the size of a beetle. In Seu it is possible to meet wild rabbits, Sardinian hares and foxes. The eucalyptus and the accompanying vegetation hosts the wild boars, which here find refuge from the hunters. What you saw on the platform could be a Tyrrhenian lizard, or a country lizard. In the pools of water it is possible to meet the Tyrrhenian frog, the Sardinian one, the Sardinian discoglossus and the Italian emerald toad. Of course, Seu's flagship is definitely the Moorish tortoise".

    The oasis is also very rich in birdlife. The Sylviidae are omnipresent, small birds that live among the shrubs such as the Sylvia melanocephala and the Sylvia undata. But partridges, wild pigeons, owls, black starlings and kestrels also circle over the green expanse and the cliff. The night is the kingdom of owls and barn owls. Together with the island of Mal di Ventre, not far from the oasis, Seu represents an important landing place for many species of spring and autumn migrants.

    “Seu must be visited on tiptoe, it is a small gem that sums up the beauty of the Sinis”, continues Lara. "During spring and autumn the hottest hours are the best. In summer the sunset, or the early morning. We of Alea have called our excursions here 'A dip in the green', which then becomes a dip in the blue...few meters away from the shore, equipped only with a mask and snorkel, it is possible to visit the wreck of the tugboat that sunk here in 1983, as well as the finds of much older shipwrecks”.

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